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Transport turns green in Tropical North Queensland

Palm Cove, situated north of Cairns.
Palm Cove, situated north of Cairns.

Visitors to the Great Barrier Reef will soon be able to enjoy silence on the reef with zero-emission scenic flights and a hybrid-electric catamaran under development.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland (TTNQ) Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the region’s operators were keen to eliminate their carbon footprint as much as possible with businesses actively seeking renewable energy sources for transport.

“With two World Heritage areas side by side, Tropical North Queensland has long been a leader in environmental initiatives and is the most eco-certified destination in Australia with 62 companies and 182 experiences accredited through the scheme,” he said.

“Transportation is the greatest challenge in reducing emissions so our operators are partnering with leaders in this field to develop more efficient ways of showcasing the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s oldest rainforest.”

Cairns Premier Great Barrier Reef and Island Tours has received a $200,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Tourism Experience Development Fund to work with marine engine manufacturer Volvo Penta to build a 24 metre electric hybrid catamaran for 60 passengers.

Owners, husband and wife team Perry Jones and Taryn Agius, have been operating dive and snorkelling tours for almost three decades on their vessels Ocean Free and Ocean Freedom with sustainability as a priority.

“Our next generation vessel will be an eco-catamaran with solar panels and an electric-hybrid engine so guests can enjoy silence while they are on the Great Barrier Reef,” Agius said.

“It has been an ongoing journey investigating cleaner energy solutions and this electric-hybrid catamaran will be our first step towards becoming emission free when we launch in mid-2024.”

CaPTA introduced Queensland’s first commercial electric bus in October 2019 for its Tropic Wings day tours between Cairns and Kuranda and to shuttle guests between the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary and Rainforestation Nature Park.

The family-owned business installed a charging station and solar panels at their Tropic Wings coach depot, reducing their carbon emissions by up to 30 tonnes each year.

Find Dambo’s giant wooden sculptures in WA

One of Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s giant wooden sculptures.

Acclaimed Danish artist Thomas Dambo’s larger-than-life wooden sculptures,Giants of Mandurah, have come to Western Australia.

Situated in five locations throughout Mandurah and the wider Peel region, visitors are invited to hunt for Dambo’s giants – each five metres tall – by obtaining cluses from the Mandurah Visitor Centre.

Visitors will need to explore the region to locate each giant, collecting a special symbol at each site along the way. All symbols need to be entered into a codebreaker at the Mandurah Visitor Centre to reveal the location of the final secret giant.

Dambo’s works celebrate the diversity, beauty and importance of the natural world.

The Giants of Mandurah can be explored until November 2023. For more information including tips, resources and a map, visit

Singapore Airlines increases Australian flight capacity

Singapore Airlines has announced that its Airbus A380 will return to Melbourne next year for the first time in almost four years, while Sydney will receive a second daily A380 service.

From May 16, 2023 to October 28, 2023, the SQ237 flight from Singapore to Melbourne, and the return flight, SQ228, will be operated by the A380 instead of the current Boeing 777-300ER.

Singapore Airlines Regional Vice President South West Pacific, Louis Arul, said the return of the A380 to Melbourne delivered a welcome capacity boost for the northern summer peak.

“Travel demand remains strong for 2023, particularly during the northern summer period. The relaxation of border controls in southeast Asia and parts of east Asia has resulted in an uptick in travel which we expect will continue into the northern summer peak,” he said.

“Deploying the A380 over the peak period will also see us exceed our pre-Covid seat capacity to Melbourne, operating at 110 per cent when compared to our operations of January 2020.”

Sydney will welcome a second A380 from May 17, 2023, with SQ221 from Singapore to Sydney, and the return flight, SQ232, to be operated by the super jumbo instead of the current A350-900 medium-haul aircraft.

The return of a second A380 to Sydney will take the airline to 98 per cent of its pre-Covid seat capacity from the NSW capital and will see Suites or First Class offered on three of the four daily flights between Singapore and Sydney.

“These additional A380 flights to Melbourne and Sydney will help to deliver even more opportunities for Australians to travel for business or pleasure in 2023,” Arul said.

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